Passport to Romance

Photo: Arunas Naujokas

So you just finished reading your most recent romance novel, or maybe even considering writing one yourself. Wouldn’t be great to chat with published romance authors, pick up free books, a ton of swag, enter a raffle, effuse with fellow readers, and buy a swill drink at a cash bar? Passport to Romance at the Westin Hotel Bellevue this weekend just might be your ticket to bliss.

The Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America (GSRWA) are hosting this free reader appreciation event/celebration from 6-8 pm on this coming Saturday, October 14th . This is part of the larger Emerald City Writers’ Conference taking place October 13-15th, which offers informative classes for aspiring or established romance authors. Although it was closed, conference registration has now been slightly extended, and is on a case-by-case basis. So if interested in improving your writing chops, it might be worth asking.

The first 100 attendees to the Passport to Romance (Facebook pagereceive free swag bags, and authors will be at the event with their own swag, including books. Arriving early also has another advantage: a cash bar will be set up outside the room around 5 pm. Fun, romantic gift baskets will be raffled off, with tickets starting at $1. A Writers’ Lounge will be set up where you can chat with other romance readers/writers and exchange items, if so inclined. A book cover contest was previously held by GSRWA in which readers could vote, and the winner will be announced Saturday night. And, if all this isn’t enough to entice you, at least three male models who have posed for book covers will be there to meet & greet you. Potentially wearing a Highland kilt.

It’s been suggested to park in Lincoln Square (the Westin’s parking lot) or Bellevue Square during those 2 hours, and should be free. Bring a bag or backpack to carry all those goodies in. As Carmen Cook, 2016 GSRWA President, mentioned about past Passports to Romance: “Aside from meeting your favorite authors, the camraderie of being with a hundred+ like-minded readers…it’s a huge, fun party.”

Photo: Clem Onojeghuo

Westin Hotel Bellevue
600 Bellevue Way NE
Bellevue, Washington
(425) 638-1000

Fourth Annual Outdoor Salsa Marina Dance Party Coming To Kirkland

Get your dancing shoes ready for a night full of salsa and other Latin dancing at the beautiful Kirkland Marina! LaVida Dance Studio is excited to host their fourth annual Outdoor Salsa Marina Dance Party at the Kirkland Marina Park on September 2nd.

This night will begin with a dance lesson for those who are new to salsa starting at 5:15 p.m., followed by a full group dance party going until 10 p.m. The beginner class will cost $5.00 and the dance party cover fee costs $10.00. You’ll find salsa dancers and other dance enthusiasts of all levels under the main gazebo at the Kirkland Marina Park.

This event, now in its fourth year, is a Kirkland favorite for avid salsa dancers and newcomers alike. Natasha Maltseva, founder and artistic director of LaVida Dance Studios says they started the event to make the most of dancing in the summer weather, as well as to grow the salsa community on the Eastside.

“People like dancing outdoors and we decided an event next to the lake would be loved by all,” she said.  “Our major goal was to develop, Eastside Seattle salsa community and fulfill our studio’s mission to nurture a love for dance.”  

Over the last few years, this dance party has grown to be a highlight for the dance community. This event isn’t just for experienced salsa dancers, but for anyone who is interested in learning about the dance style. Maltseva says all levels are welcome, and encourages beginners to take part in the the beginner session at the start of the event, and stay for the dance party to get some practice.

Salsa veterans will enjoy a chance to show off their moves to two local live DJ’s, DJ Yambu and DJ Ache. These DJ’s not only spin salsa music, but also tunes for Bachata, Chacha and Merengue, for anyone interested in participating in a few different Latin dance styles.

“Its tons of fun, you get to meet new people, enjoy family time, and discover a wonderful activity (and stress reliever) everyone can enjoy,” Maltseva said.

To learn more about LaVida Studios, visit their website. To get involved with the salsa community on the Eastside, join The Eastside Salsa Dancing Facebook Group to stay up to date with the latest news and events!

Video from a previous year’s event, courtesy of LaVida Dance Studio.

Bellevue Festival of Arts- 33 Years Strong and It Keeps Getting Better

 

The Bellevue Festival of Arts, lauded by many as the East Sides’ premier art festival, has been a big part of Bellevue’s ever-growing arts scene, the incredible Bellevue Arts Weekend and the community at large since back in 1984. Now, 33 years later, the festival is poised to have its best year yet.

It all began when a group of artists decided the traditional route of the for-profit fine arts fair was not for them. Instead, they wanted to create an event with a stronger sense of community and a culture of celebrating creativity and the spirit of the arts, with less focus on financial gain. What started as the dream of a small group of artists has now been a favorite annual event of East-siders for 33 years, an event that artists are excited to be a part of, a trailblazer for the art fair scene and a wonderful addition to the community.

Formerly known as the Craft Cooperative of the Northwest (CCNW), the BFoA has grown steadily over the years to include not only local artists, but artists from across the U.S and beyond. The award-winning, carefully curated show features art works of various mediums in a unique venue that marries the beauty of Pacific Northwest nature with an interesting and welcoming urban-esque vibe. All that in an open-air format with tree lined paths leading you from stunning piece to stunning piece.

Always keeping their “by artists, for artists” motto and love of community at heart, attendees of the BFoA are invited to view and purchase the available art works as well as directly meet the talent that created it. The lineup for this year’s event includes, as each year does, an amazing group of artists, including acclaimed local talents Michelle Aitken, Justin Hillgrove, Bob Wilfong, Francisco Bautista, Sharrey Doré, Gunter Reimnitz, Pepe Moscoso, Kate Larsson, Ashmita Gulati, David Lutrick, Juli Adams and more.

Attendees are also encouraged to make it a family affair with a fabulous new part of the BFoA- Aubrey’s Art Corner, where kinds of all ages (and their parents!) are encouraged to create their very own masterpieces! Aubrey’s Art Corner encourages imagination, joy and creativity, in the spirit of its late namesake, artist and dear friend of the BFoA, Aubrey Morgan who believed that “Inspiration is the most organic thing our minds can grow”. Pratt Fine Art Center will be at Aubrey’s Art Corner on Friday (July 28th) from 10 AM to 2 PM.

Friday at the festival will also feature representatives from the Bellevue Farmers Market in the food court offering a ‘taste of the season’, while Saturday offers a taste of Tibetan culture with a live performance of traditional Tibetan dances from the young dancers of the Tibetan Language & Culture Class at the Tibetan Association of Washington, beginning at noon.

With so much to do, you’re bound to get hungry- so it’s a good thing that the BFoA features a fabulous and diverse food court! Enjoy a wide variety of cuisine available ranging from classic fair favorites like elephant ears, corn dogs, gyros, snow cones and more to unique options like lotus wraps, dim sum and a Nepalese Thali plate. YUM! Bonus- the seating area of the food court is shaded, so you can enjoy your tasty treats AND beat the heat. That’s a winning combination!

Live music is also on deck for the festival with planned performances from some well-known and beloved local groups. Enjoy classical melodies from the Seattle Philharmonic Cello Choir, Indian/Afro-Cuban tunes from local group Anjuman, a performance from local non-profits organization Musicworks NW’s youth band, and more!

Truly offering something for everyone, the Bellevue Festival of Arts remains one of the favorite and most unique art fairs around, for good reason. With so much to do, see, hear and taste, it’s still easy to see that the true spirit of the festival is and always will be the community around it. This is demonstrated in their yearly commitment to partner with charities on the local or global level and donate the BFoA proceeds to their cause. This year’s charitable contributions and community partners include Teen Feed, L’Arche Noah Sealth of Seattle, American Indian College Fund, CERF-Craft Emergency Relief Fund, Education at Elevation, and more.

The Bellevue Festival of Arts is truly a standout part of Bellevue Arts Weekend and a celebration of the rich artistic culture in Bellevue and across the Pacific Northwest. It’s a must for every Eastside art lover and a great way to spend a weekend in July!

BFoA is a part of Bellevue Arts Weekend which also includes the BAM ARTSfair presented by the Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue 6th Street Fair and much more.

 

Bellevue Arts Weekend

Bellevue Festival of Arts:

When:  Friday July 28-Sunday 30, 2017

Where: NE 8th & Bellevue Way, across from Bellevue Square

Hours: Fri and Sat, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sun, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Price: FREE

BAM ARTSfair:

When: Friday, July 28, Saturday 29, & Sunday 30, 2017

Where: Bellevue Square and Bellevue Arts Museum

Hours: Friday & Saturday: 9:30am – 9:30pm, Sunday: 10am – 6pm

Price: FREE

Bellevue 6th Street Fair:

When: Friday, July 28, Saturday, July 29, Sunday, July 30

Where: NE 6th Street and 106th Avenue NE, Downtown Bellevue

Hours: Friday and Saturday 10am-8pm, Sunday 10am-6pm

Price: Free

One Open, One to Go!

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThe seasonal Bellevue Farmers Market opened recently on May 18th, and Crossroads Farmers Market will open on June 6th!  Because of our unusually long rainy season this year in WA State (the longest on record in modern history), some of the farm vendors understandably had a delay with their crops. But our warm season is firmly underway now, as are abundant produce, herbs, and artisanal goods!

Recently, Seattle was rated 4th in the nation for being the most fit city. One of the reasons cited for this improvement was the increase in the number of farmers markets in our area: a positive indication that unprocessed, natural food can make a difference in one’s health.

If you would like to visit other farmers markets in other neighborhoods as well, here is a complete list of places and hours from The Seattle Times. The Bellevue Farmers Market is on Thursdays, from 3-7 pm through October 12th. The Crossroads Farmers Market is on Tuesdays, from 12 noon- 6 pm (except July 4th) until September 26thBon appetit!

REI moving to Bellevue

REI's Bellevue headquarters design proposal

REI’s Bellevue proposed headquarters design.  Photo: NBBJ

REI will be moving their headquarters from Kent, where they’ve been for 29 years, to a new site in Bellevue in the year 2020. They have submitted a design proposal for an 8-acre campus to the City of Bellevue, which would occupy 20% of the new Spring Hill district development. 36-acre Spring Hill, which will be located between the Bel-Red Road corridor and 520, east of downtown Bellevue, will have an alternative tech college (The Global Innovation Exchange), 300 apartments (which are already under construction), a brewpub, and a blend of street retail and other businesses in the process of being decided.

Springhill District proposed orientation.  Photo: www.thespringdistrict.com

Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) sells specialized outdoor gear, is the nation’s largest consumer co-op, sponsors land & nature conservation causes, and also leads adventure classes and tours in the great outdoors. In keeping with this, REI works to meet green initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint in the world with their stores, distribution centers, and in this case, their actual headquarters. So the three new buildings (400,000 square feet total) will incorporate sustainable elements according to LEED energy and environmental guidelines set up for highly-effective green buildings. Salmon Safe criteria will also be considered to protect local watersheds. Some features will include outdoor meeting and community spaces, edible plants and native vegetation on the grounds, planning for optimal sunlight through windows, and other energy efficiency details.

REI's flagship store in downtown Seattle. Photo: Joe Mabel/WikiCommons

REI’s downtown Seattle flagship store, including indoor climbing rock on left.  Photo: Joe Mabel/WikiCommons

In a September 2016 memo, REI stated they had outgrown their current Kent headquarters and satellite offices, with over 1,400 employees. Some of the advantages cited for moving to Bellevue included access to a new Sound Transit light rail system that will be built right at Spring Hill in 2023. Also access to nearby nature and bikeways was an attractive idea, especially the multi-use, non-motorized Eastside Rail Corridor that will connect Renton to Woodinville, and other options being considered. Some pedestrian pathways will cut through the REI campus, which people in the surrounding community can use. It’s hoped that these considerations will be attractive to an increasingly mobile workforce.

REI"s Blue Oak Net Zero facility in Arizona. Photo: Business Wire

REI”s Net Zero Blue Oak Energy facility in Arizona.  Photo: Business Wire

Constructing highly efficient buildings is nothing new to REI. According to Business Wire, they recently achieved “Net Zero” status for their new distribution center in Arizona. This means that the solar panels installed produce 100% of their electricity per year, conserving energy. Which indicates good things to come for their future Bellevue headquarters.

Dress in your best fur-inery for Tuxes and Tails 2017!

Animal lovers, prepare yourselves for a glamorous night of elegant evening wear and furry friends at The Seattle Humane Society’s Annual Tuxes and Tails Gala!

Each year, Seattle Humane puts together a fabulous evening of fun and fund raising for the animals in need of homes at Seattle Humane. This annual event features a wonderful silent and live auction, delicious sit-own dinner and a star-studded runway show featuring celebrities and adorable, adoptable pets from Seattle Humane.

Tuxes and Tails brings together over 1,000 guests each spring for a lovey night devoted to helping the animals cared for at Seattle Humane. This wonderful event is made possible by over 200 hundred hard working and dedicated volunteers and the sponsorship of generous companies like Xtreme Consulting Group, Delta Airlines, Mud Bay and many more.

This year’s event is slated for Saturday May 13th and is looking to be one of the best yet, with opportunities to meet the Seattle Seahawks Michael Bennet, bid on exclusive items donated by many generous businesses and members of the community and enjoy an exquisite four-course meal while watching pretty people and pets work the runway at the ever-popular Celeb & Pet Runway Show.

Tickets have just become available and there are many options for you to be a part of this memorable night.  From the Seattle Humane website:

“General Event Tickets
Includes a four-course meal, silent and live auctions, and the popular celeb & pet runway show. Top Dog and Circle of Gold tables and tickets feature prime seating near all the action! Click here for tickets

General Tickets: $250
General Table of 10: $2,500

‘Tinis & Tails Cocktail Reception
These tickets include the silent auction and pre-dinner festivities only. 

Tickets: $125

Click here for tickets

Event tickets and tables go up April 1. All proceeds benefit the pets in our care. 

Special opportunity for add-on experience!

Meet Seahawk Michael Bennett at Tuxes & Tails for a special meet and greet. This unique experience includes:

  • Photo with Michael Bennett
  • Personalized autographed football
  • Access to private lounge for two with open bar between 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Limited availability. Tickets are $500*.

*This experience is available only as an add-on with the purchase of ‘Tinis & Tails, general event, Top Dog, or Circle of Gold tables and tickets.” 

 

Not able to join the festivities on May 13th? You can still be involved! Seattle Humane is still accepting sponsors and volunteers to be a part of this charitable extravaganza. Click here for more details on becoming a sponsor or volunteer. You can also be involved by donating items (or experiences) to be auctioned off, with proceeds going to benefit the animals.

 

The people at Seattle Humane work hard all year long to help animals in need, and to help you find your new four-legged friend. Tuxes and Tails is your chance to be a part of all the remarkable and compassionate work done by Seattle Humane, and to have a great time doing it.

 

Get your tickets or get involved now and be part of this magical event and feel good doing something good for our fur-iends in need!

 

 

Seattle Rents Rise, But East Side Is Pricier

It’s not a news flash that the real estate scene in Seattle has exploded in recent years. The Emerald City has gone from a town most people outside the state only associated with coffee and flannel, to the tech capital of the US (save for our friends in Silicon Valley). As home to some of the biggest tech names in the world and a booming job market to match, it’s fair to say there’s might not be enough housing to meet demand. Or, at least to meet demand AND your budget.

High rises, apartment buildings and condos are going up all over the city, and soon, our beloved skyline will be dotted with more and more buildings and towers, making the Seattle of just 10 years-ago look almost unfamiliar.

Seattle has recently made headlines as one of the most expensive places to live, get this, in the world. That’s right, recent data has placed Seattle’s rent rates at 5th highest in the nation and, supposedly 9th highest in the world! However, San Francisco and New York still dwarf us, tying for number one most expensive, world-wide.

Those of us who are Seattle Natives know that the average rental rate in Seattle has increased fairly dramatically in the last few years, but it’s interesting to note that, while Seattle’s rents have been on the rise, they don’t quite top the list of highest rents in the state.

According to recent data from Apartment List, Seattle ranks at number 5 in the state for highest rents, with the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment at about $1,650.

Surprisingly, Mercer Island tops the list of cities in Washington for highest rents. A one-bedroom on Mercer Island goes for an average of a whopping $1,890 per month. No one said Island living was cheap, I suppose.

Filling in the gaps between number 1 and number 5 on the list are Bellevue at number 2 with an average of $1,860 per month for a one-bedroom (not a whole lot lower than their neighboring Island), Redmond at number 3 with an average of about $1,690 monthly rent for a one bedroom and Kirkland at number 4 with an average monthly rent of $1,660 for a one-bedroom.

Seattle and the Eastside are not the only places in Washington with rising rent rates. Tacoma tops the list nation-wide for fastest growing rent with a year-over-year growth rate of 7.7 percent. Seattle comes close, but not close enough to that figure with year-over-year rental rate growth at 5.3 percent.

Staggering growth aside, Tacoma is still a bargain in the rental market compared to Seattle, with a one-bedroom in Tacoma going for an average of $1,000 per month. For those of you keeping score, that’s a savings of $650 compared to Seattle.

But, proving that some things really don’t change, the cheapest places to live in the Evergreen State are still East of the Cascade Mountains. You can get a one-bedroom for only $600 per month in Walla Walla and it’s not much pricier in the State’s second largest city, Spokane, at around $630 per month.

What a difference a mountain range makes…

Have A Sweet And Sweaty Time At The 2017 Hot Chocolate Run

It’s almost time to lace up those running shoes and sign up for the annual Hot Chocolate 15/5k run! This year’s yummy and fun event kicks off on Sunday, March 5th at Seattle Center How’s that for a great way to spend the first Sunday-Funday of March, both for seasoned runners and first-timers who aren’t afraid of a challenge!

The fun begins bright and early at 6:45a.m. with the 5K and the 15k starts at 7:55a.m. Race participants can expect a fun, well organized and challenging race through the heart of beautiful Downtown Seattle (hills and all!), a fabulous SWAG bag of goodies to take home, of course, delicious chocolate. Talk about motivation to finish strong!

If you’re looking for a fun way to spend your Sunday while getting a great workout, consider signing up for this once-a-year event. The challenge is worth it to get to the Post Race Party where runners will enjoy music, a family friendly environment and a ‘finisher’s mug’ filled with hot chocolate, chocolate fondue and delightfully dippable treats. Don’t count the calories, you will have more than earned this chocolate indulgence!

The Hot Chocolate Run isn’t just a great way to spend a day off. The Hot Chocolate Run is partnered with Ronald McDonald House Charities, helping to provide a home-away-from-home for children and the families of children being treated at Seattle Children’s’ Hospital, at little to no cost to the families. A portion of the proceeds from signing up for this race will go to this outstanding cause, helping to make a real difference in our community.

Not into running or chocolate? That’s fine! But be aware, this race will take place in Downtown Seattle and along many main roads and thoroughfares, so you will want to plan ahead for any travel on that day. Take a look at the map (left) to see the route and read the chart below for a street closure timeline, to help you plan your day.

This event is great to do with friends, family or even by yourself. You’ll probably leave with new friends after a little friendly competition! This event brings together people from all over the city and state, so get out there, mix, mingle and help build a wonderful feeling of community in our fair city. Sprint into Springtime at this fabulous annual event, get a good sweat on and maybe even make some new friends….oh and eat chocolate! Do we really need to sell you on this?

For more info on this event, road closures, the post-race party and more, visit the Hot Chocolate Run website here.

Anticipated Road Closures:

Street Closure From To Side of Road Closure Time Anticipated Opening
2nd Ave Thomas St Broad St Whole Road 6:15AM 9:10AM
Broad St 2nd Ave Elliott Ave Westbound 6:15AM 9:15AM
Elliott Ave Broad St SR-99 NB On-Ramp SB One Lane 6:15AM 9:20AM
Elliott Ave SR-99 NB On-Ramp Western Ave Whole Road 6:20AM 9:20AM
Western Ave Elliott Ave Spring St Whole Road 6:20AM 9:40AM
SR-99 Bell St John St NB Lanes 6:15AM 11:15AM
SR-99 Western Ave John St SB Lanes 6:15AM 10:25AM
Aurora Ave Denny Way 45th St NB Lanes 6:15AM 11:15AM
Aurora Ave 38th St Denny Way SB Lanes 6:15AM 10:25AM
Harrison St Aurora Ave Dexter Ave Whole Road 6:25AM 11:15AM
Dexter Ave Harrison St Mercer St SB One Lane 6:25AM 11:15AM
Mercer St Dexter Ave 5th Ave East Bound Lanes 6:25AM 11:20AM
5th Ave Mercer St Thomas Ave SB Lanes 3:00AM 12:00PM
5th Ave Mercer St Thomas Ave NB Lanes 6:25AM 11:25AM

Nordstrom Rack Heads To Bellevue


Just in time for the holidays, we are gifted with the joyous news that Bellevue will be getting it’s very own Nordstrom Rack!

That’s right East-Siders, no more need to leave the limits of our biggest fine city to get Nordies quality at great prices. As of Fall 2017, all bargain-hunting Bellevueites will have affordable luxury just steps away, as part of the impending Lincoln Square expansion.

Lincoln Square is a part of The Bellevue Collection which also includes Bellevue Square and Bellevue Place. The expansion of Lincoln Square will add to what is already being called “The Bellevue Boom” of rapid growth in the city. The expansion will add 1.5 million square feet of restaurants, retail, office space, a 244-room W Hotel and 218 apartments, and of course, the new Nordies Rack.

Nordstrom is not only one of Seattle’s favorite department stores but also one of its oldest homegrown shopping institutions. Originally founded as a shoe store in 1901 by John W. Nordstrom and Carl F. Wallin, the chain soon expanded its wares to include clothing, accessories and eventually high end home goods. Today, Nordstrom’s has 349 stores across 40 states (not counting Canada!) of which, 215 are Nordstrom Rack stores.

Bellevue fashionistas will gladly welcome the addition of another Rack location when it opens next year, just in time for the Christmas rush!bags

Bellevue To Get First Condo Project In Nearly A Decade

Over the last decade or so, Bellevue has really been coming up in the world. What was once known primarily as Seattle’s sister city on the East Side is rapidly becoming a full-fledged metropolis in its own right, and the skyline is expanding daily.
While apartments, office buildings and town-homes have been popping up all over the East Side for the last several years, there (surprisingly) has not been a condominium development in Bellevue in almost a decade.
With condo sales reaching new highs in the greater Seattle area of late, it’s surprising that Bellevue hasn’t seen any new condo complexes dotting its skyline, that is until plans for One88 were recently announced.

Bosa Development, the Vancouver B.C. based company and the folks behind Seattle’s already successful Insignia condo towers, has set their sights on Bellevue to build a 21-story condo development, dubbed One88.

One88 is slated to open in 2019 and will feature 143 condominiums. Units will range from 1-bedroom to penthouse units. The luxury condo project will break ground next year at Bellevue Way Northeast and Northeast Second Street, putting it in a prime location near Bellevue Square and Downtown Park.

The announcement of the One88 project is a big deal for Bellevue, as there has not been a new condo development in the city since 2008. After the housing market crashed, condo sales were severely down. So much so in fact that many condo developments were turned into apartments with developers finding renters easier to acquire than buyers.

But, times have changed. Condominiums sales have been on the rise in recent years all over the greater Seattle area. Home-buyers are turning their heads in this direction more and more as single family home prices continue to soar throughout the city, and nationwide as well. And while condos may prove to be a more affordable option there are not enough available to keep up with demand. You may remember the group of people camped out over night to buy condo units in a building that has yet to break ground. If that’s any indication, condo sales are poised to explode even further in the coming years.

One88 is touted as a luxury development which suggests that the units will be on the pricey side, and, as it is a Bosa Development project, is sure to have a host of outstanding amenities and a stylized aesthetic to boot.

Information about the project is limited at the moment, but more will become available as the project progresses. If you’re looking for your piece of the Bellevue skyline, stay tuned.